By Karmen Angoli
Have you thought about taking the plunge and joining the many Field Spaniel owners already having a blast at Dock Diving? Besides relaxing with your best friend by the pool, the one thing I love about the sport is that with just minimal dog and handler skills, any person and any breed of dog can rock the dock.
Dock Diving competitions have exploded in popularity over the last twenty years, inspiring many owners of all different breeds to jump in. Thanks to a bit of boredom at a conformation show, life presented us with the opportunity to discover dock diving and it has definitely been a happy place for me and the dogs!
Leaping into a pool seems simple but some dogs take longer to become comfortable jumping off the dock that is 4 feet above a 40 foot long pool. Don’t give up if your pup does not jump in right away! It is best to start off the ramp and once they are jumping off the ramp try jumping off of the dock. Your pup may need a life jacket if they are not great swimmers or they are afraid when they go under water. You can seek out a good trainer or go to Dock Diving Competitions and do some try it’s, most people at dock diving events are very helpful and want to see your pup succeed. You can also take advantage of social interaction on the dock with a friend’s water-crazy dog to increase comfort with jumping , where dogs see other dogs just having fun and tend to forget we are asking them to do something.
Dock Diving is not quite as complicated as other dog sports like agility or flyball, but there’s a fair amount of training time and titles to be won if you wish to be competitive in all the games. Just like in other dog sports training works on certain aspects of the dog’s dock diving skills and the humans throwing and timing.
There are several different organizations and the events held within each can be a little different. Mostly these games involve variations on the long jump, the high jump and speed retrieve. There is also the more recent "catching" games that only record the jumps where the dog is successful in grabbing the toy before landing. Some organizations allow two handlers on the dock and life jackets, others do not. No matter how experienced your dog is at swimming, keep a close eye and be sure to check their condition to ensure they aren't swallowing too much water throughout each jump to avoid water intoxication.
Dock Diving is a fun sport for dog, handler and spectators and it is awesome to see the team work.
So, get off of the couch and get yourself to a dock today!
by Karmen Angoli with photos credits to Ringo, Cinder, Blair, Rasmus, and B.G.
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